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Which police departments have booking videos?

As a Massachusetts OUI lawyer, one of the first things I look into with any new case is whether there is a booking video. There are three types of video that may be available in a Massachusetts OUI arrest:

  1. cruiser camera video;
  2. a booking tape,
  3. or police surveillance cameras.

Police cruiser camera video is not widely used in Massachusetts, though it is used in other states. Many arrested for OUI expect from watching television shows like Cops to see a video of the entire arrest; unfortunately, most departments do not have police cruiser cameras.

In Bristol County, only the Mansfield Police Department has cruiser camera video; in Worcester County, the cruiser camera video is used by the Northborough police department. The Northborough police department cruiser camera video is very clear, capturing sound.

I used cruiser camera video recently at trial to show that my client’s performance on the field sobriety test when viewed on the video did not show any difficulty with balance and coordination and contradicted the officer’s claim of slurred speech. The video contradicted the officer’s claims in the police report and was critical to obtaining a not guilty verdict at trial.

The next type of video is the station booking video. This type of video comes in two forms, with and without sound. There are many police departments that have booking videos so I will only list a few here: These departments include New Bedford, Easton, Fairhaven and Medfield to name a few. I have found that booking videos appear most common in Worcester County.

The final type of video is police security video. Typically, the police report makes no mention of this type of video, unlike booking video, where most department state in the report that there is a video, police security video is typically not mentioned in the police report and only obtained if requested.

Departments that have security video, although with no sound, include Wrentham, Foxboro, Attleboro and Seekonk to name a few in this category. It is important to know that Seekonk only preserves its video for 15 days.

I have not come across any video among the State police, although I have heard from other lawyers that at least two barracks have booking videos.

Since video clearly demonstrates what occurred during an OUI arrest, it raises the obvious question, why does the State police refuse to video the arrest and why is video not more frequently used by police departments. The answer is that many police departments believe that video decreases the conviction rate.

Massachusetts OUI attorneys can argue to the jury that lack of video tape evidence, when video is so prevalent, found on all cell phones, should be held against the Commonwealth and factor into whether the Government has satisfied the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Since the burden of proof is on the Commonwealth, a defense lawyer can also argue that a lack of evidence raises a reasonable doubt.

For a Massachusetts OUI attorney, obtaining a copy of the booking video is one of the first tasks in defending a drunk driving charge. If you have questions about which departments have a copy of a video tape evidence, you can contact me at 781-686-5924. You can also follow my posts on DUI law and other legal topics by Liking my DelSignore Law Facebook Page.

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